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Here’s why curiosity is crucial for learning

Raglan Surf School New Zealand

At Contiki, curiosity is one of our favourite words. What else drives us to discover foreign shores, to connect with complete strangers, to discover new cultures, taste new flavours and become part of a community so removed from our everyday lives? Really, that’s what Contiki is all about: quenching curiosity that young people have about the world and everything in it.

Basically, the best way to learn new things is to be insatiably curious. That applies not only to travel but also to education. Our pals at Pearson+ take a similar approach to studying as we do to exploring. They give students a comprehensive suite of eTextbooks and study tools that connect young people with a broader community, using their innate curiosity to put them on the learning path they want to explore. It’s not just about asking the right questions, but also seeking out the right answers.

And this isn’t just speculation – there’s science to back it up! So here’s a bit about why curiosity is so crucial for learning.

Curiosity helps our brains absorb more information

A recent study by the University of California found that not only are people better at retaining information they’re curious about, but curiosity also prepares the brain for learning incidental details.

In a nutshell: the researchers gave students 100 trivia questions to answer and asked them to rate their curiosity about each question on a scale. Then, using fMRI scans, they then examined how their brains reacted to each question.

Weeks later, when they asked students to recall answers to each question, they found that they didn’t just remember the answers to questions they were curious about but also the following questions they didn’t show much interest in at all. Basically, curiosity prepares the brain for learning stuff you didn’t even think you were interested in!

A man and woman standing on a rock overlooking a valley.

Curiosity makes learning feel better

The University of California study also found that whenever students were answering questions they were curious about, the part of their brain that controls memories wasn’t the only region that sparked. Dopamine (known as the pleasure chemical) was also released, meaning that learning something new suddenly became comparable with sharing a joke with friends or eating gelato under the Italian sun.

Clearly, if educators spend more time trying to capture and enhance students’ curiosity, then learning doesn’t have to be a chore. It can become a much easier, and more enjoyable experience!


Learning designed to spark your curiosity

Pearson+ is designed to cultivate your curiosity to learn. In one place, it has all the studying tools you need – from over 1,500 eTextbooks to choose from and thousands of concept videos tailored to your course to connections with a community of people just like you  – giving you greater control over your studies and your life in general. Make the most of your study time with offline access, enhanced search, notes and flashcards, helping you get organized, get the work done quicker and get results. Simplify learning and have time to live your best life (including more time to travel!).

Speaking of which…Contiki and Pearson+ have teamed up for the ultimate College sweepstakes. Enter now to win not just a $500 Contiki travel voucher, but also a free semester of Pearson+!

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